The Future Of Healing Bone Injuries And Repairing Bone Loss

2012-05-04 |

Breaking a bone is a common, painful experience with which most of us are familiar. Whether we have directly experienced broken bones or observed someone else recovering from a broken bone, it is not hard to notice that healing bones takes considerable time. Evolution has worked to make bones extremely strong, but in doing so, has traded off the ability of bones to heal as quickly as other parts of the body. As a consequence, even some simple bone fractures can take several months to heal.

When the injury to bone consists of more than a fracture, the reduced ability of bones to heal becomes even more apparent. Injury or disease that involves a greater loss of bone material often leads to the bone only healing minimally. Given that we depend on our bones to support and protect our softer tissues, the result is that people who have suffered major bone loss can face significant disability. Because of these major implications of such bone loss, a number of research efforts are focusing on replacing and regrowing bone.

How Are Researchers Attempting To Replace Bone?

As with many aspects of medical research, there are different techniques that researchers are investigating to solve the problem of bone replacement. Each approach focuses on specific knowledge of how bones function and develop. Some techniques also use knowledge from a number of areas to try to solve the problem. The following techniques all show considerable promise in providing a way to restore lost bone.

Converting Cartilage Into Bone

One of these promising techniques is the use of cartilage to replace the lost bone material. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco recently found that when cartilage is placed in a location where bone was one located, the cartilage can actually convert to bone on its own. This approach has significant benefits in comparison to the common use of bone with no living cells in it. The reason that the cartilage is much better is because it promotes the formation of blood vessels in a way that bone tissue does not. These blood vessels are crucial for effective healing.

The only issue with the use of cartilage is that there is not a lot of it within the body that can be taken from one location and used in another. Both the use of our bone and cartilage poses this problem so finding other ways of replacing bone tissue is also important.

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Category: General Health, Medical Research

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  1. Thanks for outlining some of the creative ways we’re finding to treat bone-related conditions.